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Red Mountain Colorado Healthy Tech Initiative

Red Mountain Colorado (RMC) is excited to introduce a new technology policy to help our students better manage their relationship with tech outside our program. This policy, entitled The Healthy Tech Initiative, is headed by Dr. Bennett Edgerly, our Clinical Director, who has received Certified Digital Health and Wellness (CDHWP) training through the National Institute for Digital Health and Wellness (NIDHW). Dr. Edgerly is working closely with all staff so they are trained in the same implementation methods and ways to help our students manage their technology consumption.

Why is this so important? 

There is no denying that technology has become an integral part of our lives, we use it for work, play, and socializing. While there is no denying the benefits of technology, too much screen time can have serious consequences for young people. It can lead to problems with sleep, anxiety, depression, and social skills. There is a downside to our dependence on technology, especially with teens who are just starting to form their identities and social attachments. They are inundated with pressures and boundary issues that stem from their whole lives being surrounded by and dependent on technology. 

Social pressures dictate that they must be available at all times and respond to every message or notification immediately. The dependency on technology as a means of socializing circumvents the need for face-to-face interactions. We’ve all seen this situation: a group of teens hanging out at their local spot but none of them are talking, instead they are all hunched over their phones communicating with other people, or even texting each other as they sit across the table from them. It destroys social skills which are very important for future success in any career or life choice.

There is also the unattainable standard of influencers and keeping up with popular digital characters. Most influencers are not living a realistic lifestyle, but perpetuate that their lives are the same as everyone else’s and are attainable. When in reality they are not a ‘real’ person, but a persona that they created and now teens try to emulate and ultimately will fail. This can also create some confusing self-identity issues for teens, who are at this stage in their lives experimenting with who they are and who they want to be. They emulate these influencers and create unsustainable lifestyles and habits, not to mention they could be influenced by highly negative aspects of some digital influencers such as taking appetite suppressant pills, dangerous behaviors, or even criminal offenses.

Academic pressures mean that we all spend hours staring at screens, usually seated, which causes all sorts of physical health issues but also makes it much more detrimental to spend time on screens after the school day is done. A 2017 study by the National Library of Medicine in conjunction with the World Health Organization and a 2019 study, collected as part of the Census Bureau’s 2016 National Survey of Children’s Health, cites that spending six hours or more a day of screen time was associated with a higher risk for depression and are twice as likely to be diagnosed with depression or anxiety.

Due to the COVID pandemic, students are now accustomed to doing school work completely digitally, meaning almost 8 hours a day on their screens with minimal if any social interaction. That already puts them above the line of the recommended time spent on their computers, and schools seem to be integrating computers more and more as the norm even in the classroom.

Recreational pressures of using technology have risen significantly since the COVID pandemic. It is now considered normal to stay at home and work out virtually, or instead of children going outside to play together they play together over video games, most times not even in the same room. This additional screen time adds a taxing amount of negative energy into our daily lives but calls itself normal. 

Overall this addiction to technology has a negative impact on our development as healthy individuals. We are losing the ability to interact with people face-to-face, the soft social skills needed for success in the workforce, and our ability to simply live in the moment. It’s time to take a step back and reevaluate our relationship with technology, which is exactly what RMS does upon entry into its program.

How Red Mountain Colorado handles technology

When students come to Red Mountain Colorado, we start with a technology detox to break common habits. As they reset and demonstrate growth, they are allowed to gradually reintroduce devices, which is where our new technology initiative takes center stage. The training our staff have undergone makes them ideal support systems for students as they are re-introduced to technology and the pressures that come with it.

Limits on technology use can help ensure that children have a healthy development. By imposing limits on technology use, parents and caregivers can help ensure that children have a healthy development. The philosophy behind Red Mountain Colorado’s programming is similar to where proper supervision and barriers give the scaffolding necessary for the children to establish healthy understandings and boundaries of technology use.